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The Meaning of Theodulf's Apse Mosaic at Germigny-des-Prés

Ann Freeman and Paul Meyvaert
Gesta
Vol. 40, No. 2 (2001), pp. 125-139
DOI: 10.2307/767242
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/767242
Page Count: 17
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The Meaning of Theodulf's Apse Mosaic at Germigny-des-Prés
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Abstract

To an extent hitherto unrecognized, the work Theodulf composed in Charlemagne's name (often called the Libri Carolini but actually entitled Opus Caroli regis contra synodum) provides a key to the symbolic meaning of the mosaic he placed in the apse of the small church he erected for his personal use at his country villa in Germigny-des-Prés. Religio-political circumstances prevented Charlemagne from circulating the manifesto, but its arguments and its contents remained fresh in Theodulf's mind, especially when he visited churches in Rome during the several months he spent there, in 800-801, on the occasion of Charlemagne's coronation as emperor by Pope Leo III. Some of Rome's mosaics, particularly those at S. Maria Maggiore and SS. Cosma e Damiano, recalled crucial chapters he had composed for the Opus Caroli and provided him with the basic theme for the Germigny mosaic. In highly symbolic terms, which can only be deciphered in the light of the Opus Caroli, the mosaic spells out God's plan for the salvation of mankind in the church Theodulf dedicated to the Savior.

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